Chicago City Guide
The mid-western city of Chicago is a big, bustling city located on the banks of Lake Michigan in northern Illinois. Chicago was once associated with mafia dons like Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde but today this city, which is also known as the ‘windy-city’ due to the frigid winds that blow in from Lake Michigan, is most commonly associated with legends like media mogul, Oprah Winfrey and the current President of the USA, Barrack Obama.
Chicago was almost wiped off the face of the earth by the Great Fire of 1871. Today, it is an energetic center of business and commerce in the USA.
Vacations to Chicago offers a wide assortment of attractions like stunning architecture (the city is home to the Sears Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the world), vibrant ethnic neighborhoods, a lake-front business district, numerous shopping opportunities along Michigan Avenue and top-notch sports teams.
Chicago is often chosen as a location for meetings, trade shows and conventions. The city is accordingly equipped with big Convention center and one of the world’s busiest airports, the O’Hare Airport.
Where to stay in Chicago
Chicago like any other global metropolis offers a wide variety of hotels in every neighborhood. Depending on your preference of location, we can help you secure hotel discounts at luxury hotels, spa hotels, boutique hotels and even discount hotels in every area of the city.
Business visitors to the city often choose to stay near the O’Hare Airport or near the city’s other airport, the Chicago Midway Airport. Both these areas are, thus, equipped with various business hotels.
Other visitors to the city opt to stay near the many shopping points of the Magnificent Mile near Michigan Avenue or near the Loop, which is home to the city's theatre district and shopping along State Street.
Yet, others visitors choose to stay near the affluent Gold Coast neighborhood which has attractions such as Water Tower, the John Hancock Observatory, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and is also close to the nightlife on Rush Street. This area hosts many upscale residences as well as several super luxury hotels.
A wide variety of hotels can also be found in the city’s Millennium Park, which is located in downtown Chicago and features attractions like the outdoor Jay Pritzker Pavilion, designed by famed architect Frank Gehry, gardens, sculpture, and fountains. No matter where you choose to stay in Chicago, we can help you secure attractive hotel deals, which are in line with your tastes and preferences.
Places to see in Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago is located on South Michigan Avenue and it hosts one of the greatest art collections in the world; including works that date from 3000 BC to present times. The exhibits at the Art Institute include paintings, textiles, sculptures and much more. Be here if you are an art aficionado visiting Chicago.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home
America’s most revered architect lived in a complex located in Chicago’s Oak Park area from 1899 to 1909. The complex is administered by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust and offers guided tours of the complex as well as the Oak Park area since it contains the largest concentration of buildings designed by Wright.
Sears Tower (Willis Tower)
Chicago and North America’s tallest tower, the Sears Tower was renamed the Willis Tower in 2009. It is one of Chicago’s most famous attractions that rise to a height of 1451 feet (442 m) above street level. This tower, which has 108 floors, is equipped with an observation deck/skydeck on the 103rd floor 1,353 feet (412m) above street level, which offers gorgeous views of the city. You must visit this place during Chicago vacations if you want to feel a little closer to the sky.
Magnificent Mile is the stretch of Michigan Avenue that runs from Chicago River to Oak Street. This famed stretch offers over 460 exclusive stores and boutiques along with over 200 restaurants. Also, located on the mile are some of Chicago’s prominent landmarks like the Wrigley Building and the John Hancock Center. The Magnificent Mile is adorned with lush gardens and hosts several office buildings. Several street performers use the Magnificent Mile as their performance stage while they regularly entertain the huge shopping and dining crowds.
Millennium Park is another one of Chicago’s most famous attractions. This award winning park is renowned for its innovative design and architecture and features the work of various famous artists, architects and designers.
Located within the park is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which was designed by famed architect Frank Gehry and is a concert venue that can accommodate more than 4000 people.
Other attractions within the park include the steel Cloud Gate, the Crown Fountain, BP Bridge, Millennium Monument and the Lurie Garden. The Park is also equipped with an ice skating rink in the winter and hosts frequently changing exhibitions as it promotes the works of local artists.
Best time to visit Chicago
Chicago experiences a climate pattern, which is characterized by many extremes. The weather in Chicago features extremely hot and humid summers and freezing cold winters, which are often marked by high winds and gales.
The best season to plan Chicago vacations is in early fall when the air is usually cool and the winds are not too strong.
Getting around in Chicago
In 2008 alone, O’Hare International Airport had 881,566 flight operations. With such a highly efficient airway system in place, reaching Chicago by air is the easiest thing. With Fare Buzz even the easiest gets easier. Simply search for air tickets for Chicago and be assured of the cheapest air tickets available.
Chicago is equipped with an extensive public transport system that is made up of commuter trains, buses and a subway system known as the ‘El’. The EL subway system is made up of both underground and elevated trains and most trains run 24 hours a day.
Chicago’s public transport system is accessed via cash (only on the bus), transit cards and the Chicago Card, which is a contactless smart card used by riders on the system. During the summer months, the CTA operates a free trolley system in downtown area, which caters to the needs of tourists. Chicago is also well served by a fleet of metered taxis.
Car rental in Chicago is yet another option for exploring the city on your own. Do explore the options that Fare Buzz has on offer for you.
Where to shop in Chicago
C-town as Chicago is popularly referred to, is known for its fantastic shopping options. Your shopping adventure in Chicago should probably begin at the city’s most celebrated shopping destination, the Magnificent Mile, which stretches along north Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River to Oak Street. Located here are well-known department stores like Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, along with outlets of various other national chains like Ann Taylor, Brooks Brothers Crate and Barrel, Timberland and more. Other stores located along this historic stretch of Chicago, include outposts of luxe brands like Cartier, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany and Co, Lanvin, Louis Vuitton, Escada and several boutiques and specialty stores. The Magnificent Mile additionally hosts indoor shopping centers like Water Town Place, 900 North Michigan Shops and the Shops at North Bridge which offer additional shopping options.
Yet another favored shopping destination in Chicago, is an area known as the Loop, a choice shopping destination for over 100 years, which has in its midst the renowned shopping haunt, State Street, home to the second largest department store in the world, Macy’s on State Street. Other shopping options located on and around State Street, include a mall called Block 37 which offers outlets of popular labels like Anthropologie, Sephora, the Disney Store, Zara, Eileen Fisher, L’Occitane en Provence amongst others.
However, if you rather eschew the malls and explore Chicago’s home-grown boutiques and stores, then you should concentrate your shopping expeditions in the city’s prettiest and hippest neighborhoods like Bucktown and Lincoln Park which offer an abundance of trendy boutiques like Eskell, Penelope’s, Francesca’s collections, Vive la Femme and the Fig Tree.
Aside from these downtown shopping locales, the city of Chicago offers much shopping in its suburbs as well, at locales like the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, the Oakbrook Center in Oakbrook, Old Orchard mall in Skokie and the Gurnee Mills Outlet Mall in Gurnee.
Where to eat in Chicago
Chicago is a major urban center and thus offers a very vibrant dining scene. New restaurants are constantly being launched in Chicago and according recent surveys, the list of the ‘best’ new restaurants in Chicago currently includes eateries like Grace, Bavettes Bar and Boeuf,(contemporary dining), the Boarding House, Chez Moi, Trenchermen and Found (American), A Toda Madre(Mexican), Kai Zen (Japanese), Fat Rice (Macanese), Table, Donkey and Stick(Alpine) and the Siena Tavern(Italian fare).
Nightlife in Chicago
Chicago’s energetic nightlife scenario offers an eclectic mix of hotel lounges, a variety of bars, brew pubs, jazz and blues clubs, dance clubs and more. Favored nightlife haunts in the city include spots like Grand Bar, Berlin, the Late Bar and the Smart Bar (dance clubs), Double A(lounge), the Blue bird, Telegraph and RM Champagne Salon all wine bars) and Longman and Eagle.